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4 Things You Can Absolutely Replace with Tofu

Grilled tofu and vegetables sprinkled with herbs and spices in a cast iron skillet
zi3000/Shutterstock

Whether you already love tofu or you’re looking to incorporate it into your diet, here are some foods you can easily replace with it to make using more tofu even easier.

What Is Tofu?

In case you’re new to tofu, here’s a quick look at what it is. Tofu is made using soybeans. The soybeans are combined with water and a coagulating agent to create a bean curd. It’s kind of like making cheese but uses soy milk instead of cows milk.

Vegans and vegetarians use tofu, but it is also common in many Asian dishes. That close association between tofu and Asian dishes isn’t coincidental; the process for making tofu originated in China thousands of years ago. You don’t have to be anti-meat to eat tofu. This mild-flavored food item takes on the flavors of the foods with which you cook it. Most likely, you won’t even notice it. Tofu contains calcium and protein, which is why it makes an ideal replacement for meats and dairy, among other things.

Making the Tofu Swap

Whether you want to cut down on meat and dairy, go completely vegan, or just want to try something new, there are many ways you can add tofu into your diet. Here are four categories of foods where tofu can be used as a replacement when you’re cooking.

Dairy

Silken tofu, or soft tofu, is used to replace dairy in many aspects and recipes. It can replace yogurt in smoothies, adding that smoothness you like in these healthy fruit drinks while still ensuring you get some calcium in your diet.

Some dishes use tofu as a cheese replacement. Use tofu to make cheese spreads and cheese balls (combined with things like cashews and nutritional yeast, you’ll barely tell the flavor difference). Soft tofu can also be used in making custards, as a baking replacement for dairy, and to make dressings (you just need a good blender).

Meat

Meat is one of the most common things tofu is used to replace. You can find things like “tofurkey” on the store shelves, or you can cube up a brick of tofu and use it in place of meat. Some companies make tofu that looks like chicken pieces too. What allows tofu to replace meat is the flavoring you pair with it. The right seasonings make all the difference.

If you’re using tofu to make tacos, for example, marinade your tofu in taco seasoning. The right marinade, depending on the meal you’re making, will give your virtually flavorless tofu the right flavor to finish off your dish.

Bread

While you’re unlikely to slice a chunk of tofu and use it as bread right from the container (it’ll be a bit spongy and wet), you can find amazing recipes that have you turn tofu bricks into pockets for stuffing meat or veggies into. Once stuffed, you coat the tofu in corn starch before frying it. You can also find deep-fried tofu sheets which make sandwich creation even easier.

Fried tofu chunks won’t have the extreme crispiness of a crouton, but it can make a healthy substitute to the dry bread, and add a different texture to your salad.

Egg

Soft tofu has the consistency of crumbled scrambled eggs, so you can also use it as an egg replacement. To give it a more breakfast-like flavor, mix it up with sausage (or even vegan sausage substitutes) and some veggies. Throw it in a tortilla for a breakfast burrito or have it in a breakfast skillet.

Yvonne Glasgow Yvonne Glasgow
Yvonne Glasgow has been a professional writer for almost two decades. Yvonne has worked for nutritionists, start-ups, dating companies, SEO firms, newspapers, board game companies, and much more as a writer and editor. She's also a published poet and a short story writer. Read Full Bio »

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